CONTROVERSIAL service charges for council tenants that will 'disproportionately effect groups on a lower income' come into force next month.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council says the charges, which will on average total an extra £8 per week for services such as lighting, cleaning and CCTV, 'herald a new era of fairness'.
But it also admitted in council documents that '(the service charge) may impact disproportionately on groups who have a lower income level, especially those that may be disproportionately represented in council stock'.
The new charges, which are set to pocket the council £1m in additional housing revenue over the next six years, come on top of rent rises of 7.65 per cent.
Under the new rules, tenants will only pay for the services they receive, rather than contributing a flat figure for all council property in the borough.
Resident James Smith, who lives on the Clem Attlee Estate in Fulham, said residents would now expect better services and highlighted a recent council survey which found nearly half of tenants would leave the Clem Attlee because of 'perceived lack of maintenance'.
He said: "I think it's fair enough that someone living miles away shouldn't have to pay for services on my estate but course this will mean people expect better returns for their money."
The council says tenants will be able to distinguish between the cost of their accommodation and the cost of their services. Rises are to be phased in over time to ensure tenants are not hit with hefty increases, while charges will be broken down within rent bills so tenants can see what their money is going on.
Housing chief Andrew Johnson said: "The current system of paying for services isn’t working. For example, at present someone living in a street property in Shepherd's Bush pays towards the cost of communal heating and lifts for a tall block in Fulham. That simply isn’t right or fair on those who end up contributing to the costs of things they don’t actually benefit from.
“These changes to our rent bills are to make them as fair and transparent as possible."
Charges take into account services including caretaking, CCTV, communal lighting, concierge, door entry, cleaning, grounds maintenance, heating, TV aerials, fire alarms, lift maintenance and window cleaning.
Increases in service charges bills will be capped so the cost will increase by no more than the rate of inflation plus half a per cent.